TRIP TYPE-(SERVICE LEVEL)-MAKE SURE YOU ASK !!!

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TRIP TYPE-(SERVICE LEVEL)-MAKE SURE YOU ASK !!!

Postby jaycw » Sat May 01, 2010 11:54 am

Before my last trip I never truly understood the difference between "basic" and "standard". In fact I thought them to be virtually the same.
This posting is just a reminder to do yourselves a favour and pick your type of service level very wisely and make sure you ask GAP the details!!
I had done one trip with GAP in the past which was a "basic" trip through Ecuador and I loved it! It was almost all local buses and trains and we had total freedom to do what we wanted to once we arrived in a town or village.
However, I most recently went on a trip to India through GAP and the service level was "standard". I chose this trip due to the amount of the country you saw in the time period and what you saw outmatched the other itineraries, I didn't think the service level would make that much of an impact.
I was wrong!
All your transport (aside from two nights on a sleeper train) were private buses. They are air conditioned big monsters with "TOURIST" literally written in bold letters on them so everywhere you go, you stand out and even before you park you are surrounded by people begging or trying to sell you junk... because the "TOURIST BUS" is coming! lol
Your tour guide will talk to you each day from the front of the bus with a microphone saying, "Good morning ladies and gentlemen, the itinerary today will be...", and you will literally have to ditch tours to temples in order to have any free/alone time, which then you run the risk of being labelled anti-social.
In conclusion, don't make the same mistake I did, if your style of tour sounds more like standard than basic, thats great! But if you're like me and want more freedom, go on a basic tour or do what I am going to do from now on, take a short trip to get accustomed to a country and/or just backpack through the countries without an agency! lol
So thats my advice and reminder, hope it helps some people!

P.S. I didn't like the tour style so much that I left it pretty much half way through and went off on my own!
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Re: TRIP TYPE-(SERVICE LEVEL)-MAKE SURE YOU ASK !!!

Postby jimshu » Sat May 01, 2010 5:20 pm

Very important that travellers consider carefully that the trip Service Level is going to suit them.Many people will want a higher level than what Basic offers them.Others can manage Basic in their stride.This forum exists so new travellers can ask advice from others to help them make that choice.For many,India is such a daunting country to travel, and the comfort zone of a standard tour may give them the security factor they are seeking.But having gained that, they'll do as you say, and travel onwards independantly.
Each to their own.Thanks for the warning.
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Re: TRIP TYPE-(SERVICE LEVEL)-MAKE SURE YOU ASK !!!

Postby Macha » Sat May 01, 2010 5:21 pm

I'm sorry you didn't enjoy your trip, but I'm not sure the service level was the problem.
I've been on 3 standard level trips, and none involved large tourist buses (there were a few rented vans, but also public buses), daily itineraries, or guides with microphones. Except for somewhat nicer hotels, and one or two included activities (over the course of about two weeks), they really weren't much different than the basic tour I took.
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Re: TRIP TYPE-(SERVICE LEVEL)-MAKE SURE YOU ASK !!!

Postby kris_nyc » Sat May 01, 2010 9:55 pm

I think it really depends more on the availability and efficiency of public transport than on the service level. Gap trips (and tours in general) tend to cover a lot in a relatively short period of time, and in some countries or areas, it just wouldn't be possible to do much without privately chartered transport. I look the Delhi to Kathmandu trip (a "Standard" level trip) a few months ago. In northern India, we took only public transport - trains, rickshaws, etc. In Nepal, we had a chartered bus because it was generally much faster than taking the public buses and we only had a week there.

Sorry to hear you didn't enjoy your India trip. I thought mine was fantastic.
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Re: TRIP TYPE-(SERVICE LEVEL)-MAKE SURE YOU ASK !!!

Postby TravelFun » Sun May 02, 2010 8:28 am

Well said Kris...totally agree that local travel in India can be slow and at times time-consuming so it's a matter of the best way to cover the trip in the time given efficiently.

jaycw, it's a shame that you didn't enjoy your trip but at least you managed to continue on by yourself.
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Re: TRIP TYPE-(SERVICE LEVEL)-MAKE SURE YOU ASK !!!

Postby Zuleika » Sun May 02, 2010 10:11 am

Hi Jaycw - I see you removed your previous trip review of India from the board - this is a shame as afterall you are entitled to your opinion as are we in our answers.

It sounds to me like that it is unlikely to be the style of tour that is the problem here but possibly the country itself and vast distances that need to be covered and ease with which that can happen in a country such as India where the infrastructure, poor state of public vehicles and chaotic/dangerous driving are renowned.
I have travelled extensively/independently through India over many months, on all modes of travel and sometimes it is very very difficult and chaotic and sometimes downright dangerous.
Although I admit that the thought of sitting on a very large bus with a man on the mic at the front is not very appealing.
I have also done several standard level trips in other countries and always had a variety of transport modes from big public buses to private mini buses -you name it.

As regards people trying to sell you junk - that happens all over the place - the very fact that you are white/non-Indian shouts out loud: TOURIST whether you are on a tourist bus or not. Yes it can be annoying but often these people are very poor, living hand to mouth and a few rupees goes a long way in such a poor country, and when they see foreigners with their nice clothes and expensive cameras then how can they be blamed. This is part of the culture of India and thus needs to be understood and accepted.

As far as free time, I have found that you can opt out of any of the tours whenever you like, I didn't feel ostracised when ever I did that. But I find that the GAP recommended tours are usually to the best, must see places that I want to go to anyway. GAP does like to pack these trips to the rafters which doesn't always allow a lot of free time, but I usually come home thinking wow - I did a lot! So Im happy.

I guess if you learnt one thing, that it is the level of trip that you prefer, or that you should be an independent traveller. These type of tours are not for everyone.

To others I would say, do your research properly, consider the country that you are going to, look closely at your tour dossier, check with GAP if you are unsure of anything including the style of tour and make your own choices based on your own needs.
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Re: TRIP TYPE-(SERVICE LEVEL)-MAKE SURE YOU ASK !!!

Postby jaycw » Sun May 02, 2010 1:30 pm

Well I had one of the moderators remove that posting as I did not wish to insult people or have myself be unfairly judged by strangers on message board intended to give advice and help to future travelers.

In response to the selling junk comment, I have traveled my fair share of this planet and yes I am well aware that people are going to see you as a dollar sign in a lot of cases. However, when they see the big bus with TOURIST written on it, its like a starving fat kid seeing the MacDonalds' golden arches! lol

Either way, whatever or however other tours are ran... and whether they are basic service levels or Superior, the point of this message was just to suggest to people to ask for specific details regarding spoken about issues, if it is something that might affect their experience.
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Re: TRIP TYPE-(SERVICE LEVEL)-MAKE SURE YOU ASK !!!

Postby kris_nyc » Mon May 03, 2010 5:21 pm

I definitely agree that everyone should carefully review the detailed itinerary and ask questions before booking. On the Morocco trip I took a while back, some people griped about the long travel days, but the hours of traveling were spelled out in the itinerary for each day. Another person wished that there were more people his age in the group. Guess we all learn from experience. I learned from one trip that I actually prefer a larger group (the maximum 15) that's more diverse in terms of nationalities and ages, so now I ask for a little bit of info about the group before booking.
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Re: TRIP TYPE-(SERVICE LEVEL)-MAKE SURE YOU ASK !!!

Postby jimshu » Mon May 03, 2010 6:18 pm

Well I had one of the moderators remove that posting as I did not wish to insult people or have myself be unfairly judged by strangers on message board intended to give advice and help to future travelers.



Good to see this thread going with good info being discussed amicably.
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